Reinforcements arrive just in time to tilt the balance as opening shots are fired in Bedford borough village’s planning battle

Reinforcements from the council arrived just in time for the opening of a public inquiry into plans to build up to 80 new homes in Bromham.

By David Tooley, local democracy reporter
Wednesday, 26th February 2020, 3:38 pm
Updated Wednesday, 26th February 2020, 3:39 pm

The public inquiry started on Tuesday (Feb 25) and is being held because Landcrest Developments Ltd appealed to the government after Bedford Borough Council failed to decide quickly enough on its application to build the mini estate.

Planning applications have to be dealt with in an agreed period and the appeal was lodged on October 28 last year.

At the time the council was almost a sitting duck for developments as it had been unable to prove it had enough land to supply five years’ worth of housing. The balance was “tilted” in favour of the developers.

Bedford Council's planning committee in action

And on November 25 councillors ran up the white flag when the planning committee agreed it would have given approval to the scheme.

But now, since the council agreed to its newest local plan on January 15, the circumstances have changed yet again. And the balance has “titled” back in favour of the council.

And in the very latest development, the council’s planning committee on Monday (Feb 24) agreed to reverse its earlier decision and oppose the application in advance of the opening of the inquiry.

Council planners told the committee that the appeal would take into account the status of the local plan.

Councillors voted to do an about face and oppose the Bromham scheme.

Some of the other decisions taken by the planning committee on Monday:

> A 62-unit extension of the ExtraCare Charitable Trust retirement village off The Causeway, in Wixams, was approved despite opposition from a resident of the site.

> Owners of the Park Apartments, in Kimbolton Road, Bedford, will be allowed to keep their external security lights following complaints to the council. The planning department says they must use movement sensors to switch on and off and have their brightness turned down.

> Seven bungalows can be built on the site of the former Riseley Lower School, in Church Lane, Riseley. The Old School House is being retained as part of the All Land Investments (Bedford3) plan, the committee heard. The school closed in 2017 and moved to a new site.

> A plan for 25 flats for the elderly, with a communal area, a salon and a warden flat on land off Box End Road, Kempston, were rejected. Councillors agreed with their officers that it would not be right for the area.

> Councillors went against their officers’ advice to approve a plan to change a domestic garage into a home at Old Farm Cottage, in Oldways Road, Ravensden. The officers said it was against their own recently adopted policies to approve such schemes in the open countryside but councillors disagreed.

> Councillors also overturned their officers’ recommendation to give their approval for two new homes at Vine Cottage, Manor Road, in Kempston Hardwick. The site is in open countryside but councillors said the scheme would benefit the area.